|System: X360, PS3, Wii, PS2, PSP||Review Rating Legend|
|Dev: Yuke's Co.||1.0 - 1.9 = Avoid||4.0 - 4.4 = Great|
|Pub: THQ||2.0 - 2.4 = Poor||4.5 - 4.9 = Must Buy|
|Release: Oct. 26, 2010||2.5 - 2.9 = Average||5.0 = The Best|
|Players: 1-16||3.0 - 3.4 = Fair|
|ESRB Rating: Teen||3.5 - 3.9 = Good|
The biggest new element of the Road to Wrestlemania mode is a free-roaming element that allows you to run around the backstage area of your venue before each match. This free-roaming aspect is pretty limited, as the backstage area only consists of a few rooms, but it gives you the opportunity to interact with other superstars, advance the plot in a deeper way (if you choose), and participate in extra stat-building side missions. This extra element also created some branching elements that impacted the storyline of the game, and depending on the way you interact with other superstars (generally you can either push or talk to wrestlers backstage) you will gain extra allies or enemies over the course of the story.
Aside from the new elements, your favorite modes from last year are back, including the deep character creation system and the story creation modes. While some new elements have been added to the character creation mode, the most improvement has been made to the story creator mode, which now supports branching storylines. Creators who want a pivot point in their stories can set the conditions of the branch and then map out both the different and common elements between the multiple paths of their stories. While this feature takes a little bit of work, it is a great new tool for the dedicated story creators out there to create the exact story they want.
The visuals in SmackDown vs. Raw have also received a facelift, which is a good thing considering the game's visuals have looked about the same since the 2008 iteration of the game. The superstar models have been improved greatly and have a new muscle tone texture system and dynamic skin elements that give the wrestlers a more human look (the former models tended to look a bit like action figures on occasion). The game also makes use of a brand-new physics system that makes everything look a lot more realistic (and brutal)!
SmackDown vs. Raw 2011 definitely doesn't overhaul the formula like 2010 did, but I think the format of the game is in a good place right now. The additions made to the Road to Wrestlemania mode as well as the totally immersive WWE Universe mode are ample incentive for wrestling fans to pick this one up. And of course, add that to the improved creation modes, suped-up visuals, and of course online modes (which now support more Royal Rumble players), and you've got another solid title in a franchise that has made a habit of not disappointing fans. And with plenty of DLC coming for this title in the next few months, you can bet that you'll get some lasting value from WWE SmackDown vs. Raw, even after you've unlocked every wrestler, completed all the Road to Wrestlemania storylines and created your perfect career in the WWE Universe mode.
Amanda L. Kondolojy
CCC News Director